2012 Scouting Report: LHP Kelvin De La Cruz
The Indians traded Kelvin De La Cruz on Tuesday to the Texas Rangers. Here is his scouting report that was included in the 2012 Cleveland Indians Prospect Insider book that I sent to press on Tuesday morning (more info on the availability and pricing on Wednesday or Thursday).
De La Cruz was ranked #57 in the book, and I am providing his actual scouting report from the book free of charge as a preview so people can see the detail of the scouting reports in the book and also in the Top 50 countdown on the site. With each report on the site I include their full career stats, a professionally made player picture card, and a professionally made 2011 scouting video. The tool grades are only in the book.
57. Kelvin De La Cruz – Left-handed Pitcher
Born: 08/01/1988 – Height: 6’5” – Weight: 190 – Bats: Left – Throws: Left
History: De La Cruz, 23, is a left-handed pitcher the Indians signed as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in December of 2004. He had strained the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his left elbow in April of 2009, and though he did not tear it or have surgery he missed the rest of that season. In 2011 he was on the disabled list in July with left shoulder inflammation which resulted in a five week layoff and when he returned he finished the season in the bullpen.
Strengths: De La Cruz is a tall, thin pitcher with good size and a long wingspan. His two-seam fastball sits at 91-93 MPH and has flashed 96 MPH, and gets good sink with it down in the zone. He showed some velocity gains last season, and as he gets stronger and harnesses his delivery there is a belief he still has some untapped arm strength. His plus curveball is a 12-6 hammer with real good depth and a swing-and-miss put away type pitch that is a weapon for him, and is considered by many to be the best breaking ball in the entire Indians’ system. He has a good feel for his changeup and it has the potential to be an average offering for him, but it is still a work in progress.
With De La Cruz’s big frame and stuff he has unlimited potential. His size and strong lower half allows him to get good leverage on hitters and get the ball on a downward plane. He has an aggressive, fearless approach where he challenges hitters and goes right at them. He loves to compete and just oozes confidence on the mound. He has a long way to go, but he has made steady strides in his ability to make adjustments inning to inning and pitch to pitch. He is very athletic and fields his position well. He has excellent makeup, speaks good English, and is a student of the game.
Opportunities: Fastball command, fastball command, fast command. That’s what it is all about for De La Cruz. He has been a high level prospect for the Indians for some time now and was even added to the 40-man roster because so, but he has stalled at the Double-A level because of his inability to develop his fastball command. He shows fastball command in spurts, but finding consistency with it is the problem. The Indians continue to work on getting him to better repeat his delivery, solidify his arm slot and release point, and strengthen his lower half, and feel if he does that his balance will improve and his fastball command will spike. He also needs to develop a better mental approach on the mound, be more focused, and show better composure when pitching in tight spots or when things do not go his way. He needs to get a better feel for pitching with understanding how to attack hitters and use his stuff. He showed more confidence with his two-seam fastball and curveball last season though his changeup is still inconsistent and needs work.
Outlook: After a disappointing 2010 campaign De La Cruz was looking to re-establish himself as one of the Indians’ top pitching prospects last season, but that did not happen and he has slid considerably as a prospect. The physical tools, stuff, and abilities are still there, but unless he can develop his fastball command he is never going to get over the hump and be a true Major League option. Last year at Double-A Akron he continued to be inconsistent and did not show any improvement as he had a nice strikeout rate (9.9 K/9) but walked way too many batters (6.0 BB/9). He had a 6.1 BB/9 rate in 2010 at Akron so a return trip last season did not help, and now it appears the Indians have resorted to putting him in the bullpen to hopefully fix the command issues. The Indians have not given up on him, but his future looks to be in the bullpen, a move which may help his fastball play up some. He has potential as a left-on-left Major League reliever that has the ability to get strikeouts. He should open the 2012 season in the Triple-A Columbus or Akron bullpen.
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Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2013 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.
In the end, I feel fortunate to still have 1 copy from each year to be able to look back on.